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Fort Wayne air traffic controller receives national award

(Photo Supplied/NATCA)

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WOWO): An air traffic controller for the Fort Wayne International Airport has received the highest award in his field for a dramatic flight assist.

Eric Vanstrom was working the night a pilot and co-pilot in a small plane from Iowa tried to land at the airport but ended up flying aimlessly due to a nasty thunderstorm.

He got the pilot turned around to land safely in Portland, 48 miles south of Fort Wayne, after two hours of talking them through it. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association honored Vanstrom with its highest honor, the Archie League Medal of Safety Award.

Vanstrom says he was surprised:

“It feels pretty amazing. I just happened to be working that night… I think most of the controllers in Fort Wayne would’ve been able to handle it.”

The award is named for the first air traffic controller and is given to controllers who perform life-saving work. You can hear snippets of his conversation with the pilot here.

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